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Contracts in Python

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Bill Venners

Posts: 2285
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Contracts in Python Posted: Feb 2, 2003 2:58 AM
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Advertisement has published Part IV of an interview with Python creator Guido van Rossum, in which he talks about about the nature of contracts in a runtime typed programming language such as Python.

Here's an excerpt:

In general in Python, there is a contract, but the contract is implicit. The contract isn't specified by an interface. There's nothing in what the parser sees at least that says x has to be an object that supports readline that you can call with no arguments and it returns a string that means a certain thing. But that contract is certainly in the documentation or specification.

In Java, if you say this is something that has a readline method that returns a string, what does it mean? Do you expect it to always return the same string? Does it ever return an empty string? There are all sorts of things that aren't expressed by that interface that you still have to specify in documentation. That's where the interesting competition between the different languages exists.

What do you think of Guido's comments?

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